COLUMBUS — As federal authorities announced Tuesday they are joining Columbus police in the investigation into the death of a 23-year-old Black man who was shot by a sheriff’s deputy, many questions continue to go unanswered.
U.S. Attorney David DeVillers announced Tuesday that the FBI, the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice and the Columbus Police Critical Incident Response Team will “review the facts and circumstances” surrounding the shooting death of Casey Goodson Jr. by Franklin County Sheriff’s SWAT deputy Jason Meade on Friday afternoon.
DeVillers said in a statement that appropriate action will be taken “if the evidence indicates any federal civil rights laws were violated.”
Columbus police said they would investigate whether or not Meade, a 17-year sheriff’s office veteran, was legally justified in the shooting. The FBI and U.S. Attorney’s office will investigate whether any federal civil rights laws were broken.
“I believe a federal investigation is warranted,” DeVillers said.
The announcement came 24 hours after a back-and-forth exchange between Columbus police and Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost over who would lead the investigation into Goodson’s death.
Goodson was shot by Meade about 12:15 p.m. Friday following an unsuccessful search for a fugitive involving a U.S. Marshals task force.
Law enforcement officials have said Goodson drove by after the deputies and agents had finished their unrelated operation on the Northeast Side. Goodson was waving a firearm at police, according to their narrative of events. When confronted, Goodson did not drop the firearm and Meade shot him.
Goodson’s family has said he had a valid license to carry a concealed weapon, which Columbus police confirmed, and that he was carrying sub sandwiches while walking into his home when he was shot.
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Columbus police have said a firearm belonging to Goodson was recovered at the scene, but information about where exactly the firearm was located has not yet been released.
Additional information regarding Goodson’s death, including the results of an autopsy being performed Tuesday, has also not been released. Goodson’s family has claimed he was shot in the back three times, but the autopsy results have not been released to verify that.
A representative of the coroner’s office said Tuesday that preliminary autopsy results would not be released and a final coroner’s report would not be available until at least six to eight weeks following the autopsy.
The conflicting narratives have drawn statewide and national attention to the case since Friday afternoon, including from Ohio’s Democratic U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown.
The senator posted on social media about the case on Monday evening. His daughter, Columbus City Council President Pro Tempore Elizabeth Brown, has also spoken about the case on social media.
Mayor Andrew J. Ginther’s office confirmed Tuesday that Ginther had specifically directed Chief Thomas Quinlan to request the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation to take over the investigation into Goodson’s death.
The request began a carousel of communication about whether or not BCI would take the case.
Columbus police said Monday afternoon that BCI had agreed to take over the investigation, which was confirmed by Sheriff Dallas Baldwin and Ginther.
Hours later, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost issued a statement saying BCI would not take the case because Columbus police had waited three days to call them.
Bethany McCorkle, a spokeswoman for Yost, said Tuesday that BCI never formally accepted the case. She said BCI has handled more than 50 officer-involved shooting investigations statewide in 2020, but has been on the scene for all of those.
“We’re typically the first call because we’re the subject matter experts,” McCorkle said.
Because three days had passed, she said BCI declined to take the case. McCorkle said while BCI has a cold case investigations unit, the case could not be treated like a cold case because it is an ongoing investigation.
Ginther’s office did not directly respond to questions about whether he trusted Columbus police to conduct a thorough and complete investigation.
“We want a thorough, complete, transparent investigation,” Ginther spokeswoman Robin Davis said. “It is critically important we get it right.”
Davis said the Division of Police must ensure that the public has full confidence in the investigation. When asked if the mayor had confidence in the investigation and would publicly say that, Davis said the entire process is to “build the community’s trust in the process.”
“The Mayor asking for another agency to lead the investigation is not a reflection on CPD’s ability to do it,” she said.
Columbus police have received multiple threats regarding the investigation, Sgt. James Fuqua said. The threats have come from social media and calls to the division.
Because officer-involved shootings are a separate category for reporting crime data to federal agencies, Goodson’s death is not considered part of the city’s overall homicide total for the year
Meade remains on paid administrative leave, as is the sheriff’s office policy following any deputy-involved shooting while the matter is investigated.
Meade’s personnel file from the sheriff’s office shows no significant disciplinary action. He was given an oral reprimand in 2019 for not properly reporting the use of a Taser to dispatchers or supervisors.
Meade was also one of seven deputies to be involved in the shooting of a man in Pike County in 2018 following a multi-hour standoff. No deputies were found to be at fault in the incident, which Franklin County SWAT officers responded to in order to assist Pike County.
Protests are planned in the Downtown area on Friday and Saturday with the goal of bringing attention to the case, according to social media.